AF DTC assists, supports re-deployers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Leslie Keopka
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Deployments can be rewarding, challenging, stressful and even life-changing experiences for service members worldwide. Packing up and leaving family members and all things home for several months can take a toll on a person.

The Air Force's only Deployment Transition Center is on Ramstein and is here to help lessen the weight, once members are in transit back to their home station .

The mission of the DTC is to provide critical re-integration skills and decompression opportunities for those returning by focusing on their mental, social, physical and spiritual components, also known as Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

"There isn't magic in our program, but there is intentionality and design," " said Maj. Corey Carnes, Deployment Transition Center program director. "Here, they get to slow down, think about things, and prepare to go home. We want to focus on expectation management and normal patterns for reconnections."

Selected "re-deployers" (individuals returning back to their home station) arrive at Ramstein and stay in the DTC for approximately seventy-two hours gathering their thoughts and focusing on expectation management. Several of these hours are spent with the program personnel, while the remaining leave individuals time to decompress on their own.

"One part of the program is taking the re-deployers to a near-by city to help them readjust to normal life," Carnes said. "This experiential outing is designed to help them readjust and re-acclimate to (everyday life), where they get to eat and drink on the economy rather than waiting in line at a DFAC. "

They also attend two discussion groups to talk about the four components and how they may be different at home than the deployment location.  One of which is the after action review, which allows Airmen to discuss all that has occurred from the time of notification and throughout the deployment. 

A second discussion, titled "Combat Bridge", allows the conversation to go deeper and begin to examine changes and effects related to deployed exposures. 

High-risk jobs such as security forces, medics and air advisors are the biggest makeup of DTC visitors. However, anyone can come through after being identified by their chain of command in the deployed location.

While a group of security forces personnel may only be deployed to Ramstein and not to a combat zone, the stress-level could put them in a high risk category.

"We ask them to perform on a high-tempo level; we need them to be alert, carry a loaded weapon and police areas...we are asking them to be on their A-game all the time," Carnes said. "How can we ask them to go from that mindset to relaxing and attending their daughter's ballet that night?

"Over time, from a clinical perspective, the person may struggle to turn that off," Carnes continued. "They come here to learn skills to reintegrate back into a (normal mindset)."

The DTC team is here to provide assistance and support for the individuals returning home. Their priorities are to enhance people, build community, flex and adapt to mission needs and conserve resources.

Tech. Sgt. Jerrell Williams, DTC mission set manager and medic, is deployed from Royal Air Force Lakenheath to the DTC to help with the medics that transition through.
He speaks about his own deployment experiences, helping to relate to them.

"When I go in a room and tell them I have been deployed twice to Iraq, they respond like 'Really? Wow!' and they start opening up to me," Williams said. "It is awesome to get to share my experiences with people."

After opening in 2010, the DTC has helped more than eight thousand service members rest, refresh and recuperate after leaving their deployment location and prior to returning to their home station.

"These deployers were willing to die for their country," Carnes explained. "It is our job here to give them the skills and opportunity to go back home and live for their families."